FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Mill Basin Man Sentenced to Three to Six Years in Prison
For Scamming Investors Out of $440,000
Defendant Stole Money He Offered to Invest for Family and Friends;
Pleaded Guilty to Grand Larceny
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Mill Basin man has been sentenced to three to six years in prison for stealing more than $440,000 that he was supposed to invest in securities for at least 22 people, including his friends, family, neighbors and others. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in September.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant admittedly cheated many people, including friends and family, out of thousands of dollars in savings, betraying their trust. He has now been held accountable for the financial hardship he caused his victims. I strongly advise anyone considering investing with a broker or brokerage firm to make sure they are registered with the Financial Industry Regularity Authority (FINRA) and licensed to sell securities.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Casertano, 57, of Mill Basin, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of three to six years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on September 25, 2019.
The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, between October 1, 2011 and July 31, 2017, the defendant told people that he had an investment company, Shelter Island Leverage, and convinced 22 people to invest in multiple initial public offerings (IPOs) in increments beginning at $12,500.
After the initial investment, the defendant reported high rates of return and some of the victims were given account numbers and statements showing various stock trades and account balances. Many of the victims opted to reinvest and continued to give the defendant more money, believing that the investment was highly profitable. The defendant’s first victim was a man he met at a local gym. Some of the investors convinced their friends and family to invest in the scheme. Among the victims were the defendant’s relatives, lifelong friends and neighbors.
When people attempted to withdraw money, the defendant told them they were precluded from withdrawing due to securities regulations. In some instances, he would give small amounts of money back as proof that the accounts were real.
Financial records show that the defendant never made any investments or opened any accounts, but instead deposited the investment checks into one of three accounts that he controlled. All expenditures from those accounts were personal, including vacations, restaurants and personal credit card payments. He also made cash withdrawals totaling more than $200,000.
The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Pamela J. Murray of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief.